Sabudana, also known as sago, is a starchy substance extracted from the pith of sago palm stems. It is a popular food ingredient in Indian cuisine and is commonly used to make dishes like Sabudana khichdi, vada, and kheer. Sabudana is a versatile ingredient that can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes, making it a staple in many Indian households. In recent years, Sabudana has gained recognition as a nutritious food source worldwide.
Sabudana Nutrition Profile
The impressive health benefits of the food can be attributed to Sabudana’s nutritional value. While it primarily consists of carbohydrates, it also contains essential minerals and vitamins, including iron, calcium, manganese, and thiamine. These nutrients play a crucial role in supporting various bodily functions. Sabudana is also notably low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium, making it a healthy choice for anyone looking to eat healthy.
Primary Benefits: Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize potentially harmful molecules called free radicals. When free radical levels become too high in the body, they can cause cellular damage, which is linked to conditions like cancer and heart disease. Sabudana contains antioxidants such as phenolic compounds and flavonoids, which can help protect the body from oxidative stress 1.
Primary Benefits: Sabudana has long been recognized for its positive effects on digestive health. Due to its high fibre content, Sabudana aids in maintaining regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. The ample presence of fibre contributes to the gradual release of energy, enabling individuals to feel fuller for longer periods and reducing the likelihood of overeating.
Primary Benefits: Incorporating Sabudana into a balanced diet can also promote effective weight management. Its slow-release energy properties make it an ideal choice for sustaining energy levels throughout the day. The high fibre content and low-fat composition of Sabudana further contribute to feelings of fullness, reducing the temptation to indulge in calorie-dense snacks. Moreover, Sabudana’s natural sugars are slowly absorbed into the bloodstream, preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar levels and providing a steady source of energy. These factors collectively contribute to a healthier and more sustainable approach to weight management.
Primary Benefits: Sabudana’s gentle effect on the digestive system makes it an excellent option for those suffering from mild gastrointestinal disorders or sensitivity to certain foods. Sabudana is approximately 7.5% resistant starch, a type of starch that passes through the digestive tract without being broken down by enzymes. Resistant starch acts as a prebiotic, which means it feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut and could relieve common digestive problems.
Might Help Diabetics
Secondary Benefits: Although more research is needed, it is generally thought that certain types of resistant starch can help with the management of prediabetes or diabetes. Research indicates that Sabudana may reduce insulin resistance, making blood sugar easier to control 2.
Secondary Benefits: Sabudana may have some beneficial effects on heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. One study found that sago pearls reduced systolic blood pressure and total cholesterol in rats with high blood pressure 3. Sabudana is also believed to help lower triglyceride levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels. These effects may be due to the presence of dietary fibre and antioxidants in sago.
May improve exercise performance
Secondary Benefits: Sabudana may also be a good choice for athletes and active individuals who need a quick source of energy. Sabudana has a high glycemic index (GI), which means it raises blood sugar levels rapidly after consumption. This can provide a burst of glucose to the muscles and brain, which can enhance physical and mental performance. One study found that Sabudana porridge improved endurance capacity and reduced fatigue in cyclists compared with rice porridge.
Musculoskeletal HealthSecondary Benefits: The high levels of iron found in Sabudana can help prevent anaemia, while calcium and manganese present in Sabudana contribute to the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. At the same time, thiamine in Sabudana is important for healthy muscle contraction.
Sabudana Side Effects & Safety
- High Glycaemic Index: Sabudana has a high glycaemic index, meaning it can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. This means that despite its benefits for reducing insulin resistance, individuals with diabetes should use Sabudana with caution.
- Calorie Content: Although it can increase satiety because of its fibre content, Sabudana is also calorie-dense. So, although it can help with weight loss when balanced with nutritious foods, it can also aggravate weight gain when eaten in excess.
- Digestive Issues: Some people may experience digestive problems like bloating, gas, or constipation when consuming Sabudana if it is not soaked and cooked properly.
- Allergies: In very rare cases, individuals may be allergic to Sabudana. If you have a known allergy to tapioca it would be best to avoid Sabudana.
By incorporating Sabudana into a balanced diet, individuals can experience the advantages of improved regularity, sustained energy levels, and better overall health. As researchers continue to explore the potential benefits of Sabudana, it is evident that this traditional food staple holds great promise as a nutritious addition to modern diets.
How is Sabudana made?
Sabudana is made by crushing and washing the pith of the palm tree, filtering out the starch, and shaping it into small balls that are dried and cooked.
Is Sabudana good for weight loss?
Sabudana can be good for weight loss if you eat it in small portions and combine it with protein and fibre-rich foods, but it can also cause weight gain if you eat too much.
What is a healthy serving size of Sabudana?
A healthy serving size of Sabudana for weight loss is ½ cup cooked with low-calorie ingredients and paired with protein and fibre-rich foods.
Disclaimer: This article is written from a health and lifestyle perspective. It is for general information and not meant to substitute any medical advice. Please consult your doctor for appropriate medical consultation.